Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

A Little Way of HomeschoolingSome 18 months after its publication, A Little Way of Homeschooling continues to elicit great interest. The second work of alumna author Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, the book profiles 12 Catholic homeschooling families and their use of the “unschooling” educational method, while drawing upon the works of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. John Bosco, and ancient philosophers.

On Friday morning Mrs. Andres appeared on the Mothers at Home radio program with Judy Dudich on BlogTalkRadio. You can listen to the broadcast in the player below.


Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B (’08)Br. Mary Evagrius (Dominic ’08) Hayden, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk at the Monastero San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. The 1,000-year-old monastery had fallen into a 200-year period of disuse until refounded by a group of American Benedictines in the great Jubilee Year of 2,000. Br. Evagrius, as he is known, is now one of two Thomas Aquinas College alumni pursuing vocations there, the other being the community’s subprior, Rev. Thomas (David’96) Bolin, O.S.B.

In August, Br. Evagrius made his solemn profession, and shortly afterward sent the following reflection about the experience to the College’s president, Dr. Michael F. McLean:

Mortuus sum, et vita mea est abscondita cum Christo in Deo.” “I am dead, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.”

This was the hymn that echoed above me as I lay stretched out upon the cold floor, a black funeral shroud draped over my still body. The funeral bells rang their mournful cry announcing the passage of another soul from this world … and I wept. I had given God all that I had: money, time, energy, even my own life dedicated fully to Him. But of what value are the things that I seek to give to Him when He possesses the universe? My gifts are like ashes and smoke.

A wise Abba once told me, “In the end all that we can give to God is our dying, and that pleases the spouse very much.” I had finally given that little gift to Him as well, prefiguring my own death in the flesh with my death from the world. Now I have nothing left, except the years of waiting until I am finally brought in to the wedding feast of the lamb.

When will my death be consummated so that I can be with the Spouse? I do not know. But until that day comes I must prepare myself, for as the same Abba told me, “The monastic life is a preparation for martyrdom.”

The hymn continued: “Non moriar sed vivam, et narrabo opera Domini.” “I will not die but I shall live, and I will proclaim the works of the Lord.”

Having made my solemn vows, I am now given a mission, to proclaim the works of the Lord by my life until that time when He should call me to lay it down out of love, a holocaust consumed, emptied as Christ emptied himself, to die just as He did. Then death loses its sting, it is no longer a tragedy of pain, fear and sorrow, but rather a separation from the obstacles that keep the soul from union with God, a joyful transformation from orphan-hood to son-ship, a resurrection to life everlasting.


Be sure not to miss these recent articles by alumni writers:

In The Public Discourse, S. Adam Seagrave (’05), a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, addresses the often unspoken question that lies at the heart of debates about marriage law: Why does the state concern itself with marriage in the first place?

Although civil marriage is now commonly understood in the elevated terms characteristic of marriage’s more fundamental and profoundly fulfilling aspects, the purpose of civil marriage is, in fact, more in keeping with its sterile legality. Governments assign legal responsibilities and benefits to marriage, rather than to other relationships, to help mitigate the potentially destructive and tragic consequences of irresponsible procreation.

Writing for the National Catholic Register, Sophia Mason (’09), a graduate student at the Catholic University of America and a blogger, describes an informal evening with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at Washington’s Catholic Information Center:

The separation of church and state is, Scalia noted, “a subject that has been particularly good for Americans and that Americans have been particularly good at.”

The American skill in distinguishing the two is due in part to the diversity of American religious views, the “300 religions,” which makes separation of church and state “more politically needful in the United States than elsewhere.” It is also due, Scalia added less happily, to the growing decline in religiosity. “If one is a skeptic, it is easy to believe that one’s religious beliefs should not be imposed. … After all, one might be wrong!”

Also be sure also to see Miss Mason’s September story in the Register comparing the sagas of superheroes to the lives of the saints.

Finally, The New Oxford Review, Christopher Zehnder (’87), the general editor of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, considers the question: What does it mean to “serve Mammon?”

The possession of great riches, thought not to be condemned in itself, nevertheless presents grave difficulties to the soul that seeks perfection. Great wealth coaxes us with a delight that “chokes the word.” It deludes us with a false security, tempting us to hoard our riches and to pull down our barns for larger ones. We become unwilling to live like the birds of the air or the lilies of the field and seek the Kingdom of God (Lk. 12:22-31); rather we are anxious to maintain what we have amassed and seek to amass more.

 

 


Venerable Solanus CaseyVenerable Fr. Solanus CaseyMichele (Grimm ’81) Loughman, a mother of 10, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be undergoing more tests over the next few days, and she and her husband, Pat (’78), a member of the Greater Los Angeles Board of Regents, will be weighing her options.

The Loughmans invite all to join them in seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey. Please keep Michele, her family, and her doctors in your prayers!
 


Dr. and Mrs. GrimmDaniel J. Grimm (’76) and his wife, Rose (Teichert ’76)Having obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology in 2006; having completed 3,000 hours of supervised treatment of couples, families, and individuals; and having passed the two exams specified by the State of California, Daniel J. Grimm (’76) is now a licensed marriage and family therapist. He has an office in Ojai, Calif., and also sees clients at Stillpoint Family Resources in South Pasadena. Additionally, he continues to direct the Thomas Aquinas College Choir, which will be performing Bach’s Mass in B at its Advent Concert on November 30.


Greg Pfundstein ('05)The executive director of New York City’s Chiaroscuro Foundation, Greg Pfundstein (’05) has been actively defending life — from conception to natural death — in several publications, both print and online.

First, Mr. Pfundstein, who holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, weighs in on a debate in the pages of The Human Life Review over whether pro-lifers ought to frame their arguments in strictly secular terms. We will not reveal which side of the debate he takes (for that, go see the full article), but it is worth noting that, in making his case, he draws upon three authors from the College’s classical curriculum: Euclid, Boethius, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Next Mr. Pfundstein shifts his focus from the young and vulnerable to the old and vulnerable, writing in The Public Discourse about an effort to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Massachusetts:

Tens of thousands of Americans commit suicide every year. Nowhere in the U.S. is it a crime to do so. It is an unfortunate fact that some people determine that their lives are no longer worth living. But we see it as a tragedy; this is why high bridges often have signs encouraging troubled individuals to seek help rather than jump. Suicide hotlines are open 24 hours a day because we hope to prevent as many suicides as possible. This consistent cultural message is contradicted when we give doctors the right to prescribe lethal drugs as a medical treatment. It is like replacing the suicide intervention signs on bridges and railroad tracks with signs that say, “Ask your physician if jumping is right for you.”

Finally, in National Review, Mr. Pfundstein looks at how the Massachusetts campaign and others like it are part of a deliberate effort to make doctor-prescribed suicide the law of the land by way of the Supreme Court, à la Roe v. Wade:

Now let’s look a few years down the line, when advocates bring the case of an individual in, say, Alabama who, being terminally ill, desperately wants his doctor to provide a lethal prescription. When that case proceeds to the Supreme Court, what will a look at the “laboratory” show? Suicide as a medical treatment was made legal in Washington in 2008, Massachusetts in 2012, Vermont and New York in 2013, and New Mexico in 2014. This looks like an “emerging consensus,” doesn’t it?

Mr. Pfundstein’s conclusion is powerful: “The lesson of the last 40 years is clear: Fight now, not later” — and so he leads by example.

Related:

 


Starting tomorrow (Saturday, September 29), EWTN is sponsoring a Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, seeking Our Lady’s intercession and Our Lord’s blessing on the country as we approach the upcoming elections. The novena has the nihil obstat of one of the College's graduates, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.

The inspiration for the Novena, says Fr. Selin, came from its author, Rev. Frederick L. Miller, S.T.D., of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, who spent last year in sabbatical at St. John Vianney. During that time, the two priests discussed the state of the Church in America, the elections, and what Catholics could do for their country.

“I was concerned, as the year was going on, that we Catholics in the U.S. — starting with us clergy, but also the lay faithful — were not looking at the election enough from the spiritual perspective,” Fr. Selin recalls. From there, he and Fr. Miller thought of the Novena, which, in keeping with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom this summer, would “continue that spirit of prayer and fasting for our country.”

It was important to both priests, says Fr. Selin, that the Novena call upon the aid of the Blessed Mother. “I know from history and my own personal experience,” he notes, citing events from the Battle of Lepanto to the fall of Communism, “that when we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary in time of great need — when we go to Jesus through Mary — Jesus has come through with very special graces.”

Thus the timing of the Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, which begins on the Feast of the Holy Archangels (September 29), and concludes on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), just prior to the start of the Year of Faith (October 11). “Coming into an election, where so much is on the line for the Catholic Church and for our country with regards to attacks against religious liberty, the attack against the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and even the marital act,” Fr. Selin explains, “we’re callings upon God through the intercession of Mary for very special graces on our country.”

Fr. Selin adds, however, that the act of transforming a nation must begin with our own, interior conversions. “First and foremost in this whole issue of the election, we have to start with ourselves, asking: How have we been faithful to God’s commands? How have we lived a deep prayer life, avoiding sin, growing in holiness and in our dedication to the Holy Eucharist? Then our public acts will be a beautiful overflowing of that commitment of faith.”

Fr. Selin has long had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. His senior thesis at the College was titled, “Mary: Archetype of the Church.” The Mother of God, he says, “has always been close to me in my vocational discernment and leading me here.” Likewise, she must play a role in the future of the nation: “Work has to be done in the public sphere — and that’s the work of the lay faithful to get out there, and we priests have to preach and encourage — but we cannot forget Our Lady.”

 


CNS Honor RollThe Cardinal Newman Society has issued its 2012-2013 Catholic High School Honor Roll, recognizing “excellence in Catholic identity, academics and civic education at Catholic high schools across the United States.” To make the list, the Society explains, schools must have “an institutional commitment to providing a truly integrated and faithful Catholic education across all disciplines and in all areas of student activities.”

Notably, three of the just 50 schools honored on this year’s list are headed by Thomas Aquinas College alumni:

“The Honor Roll schools are a reminder that Catholic education is getting better every day — not only academically, but in the renewal of Catholic identity,” says Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly. “We are delighted to see the increased level of competition among the schools that participated in the program this year.”

Congratulations to Mrs. Grimm, Fr. Moriarty, and Mr. Van Hecke!


September
20, 2012

at the investiture of Sr. Sophia Eid ('08)Jenny Gerrity (’08) at the investiture of Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08, second from left), with Sr. Mary Josefa (Kathleen’07) Holcomb, OSB, and Lisa (Gerritty ’08) Berquist

The College has recently learned some wonderful news about three of its alumnae who are pursuing vocations to the religious life:

On the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), Erika Brown (’11) entered the candidacy program with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. “I feel so blessed to be a part of this Carmelite community praying ‘in the heart of the Church,’” she writes. “The Lord has been working in my life in wonderful ways. I am so grateful for my time at Thomas Aquinas College: It fostered a desire to know and love the Lord which could not be quenched. God is so good!”

Elisabeth Sedler ('11)Less than two weeks later, on August 28, Elisabeth Sedler (’09) entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and soon thereafter moved into the Order’s new house, St. Felix Oratory in Huntington, Ind. Miss Sedler is the third alumna of the College to join the Sisters of Mary, whose superior general, Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P., was the College’s 2012 Commencement Speaker.

Sr. Sophia EidLastly, on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sr. Gina Marie Eid (’08) received her habit and new religious name — Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB, as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Mo. Sr. Sophia is now a novice in the community, where she joins fellow alumna Sr. Mary Josefa (Kathleen ’07) Holcomb, OSB. Many family members and friends, including several alumni of the College came for the investiture ceremony, which took place at St. James Church in St. Joseph, Mo.

Please pray for the intentions and well-being of the newest alumnae sisters. May God richly bless these humble, dedicated servants of Christ!


Eastern Oklahoma CatholicEastern Oklahoma Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Tulsa, recently ran a story (PDF) about the life, prayer, and work of the Benedictine Monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey. Ten of the 40 brothers in this rapidly growing community are Thomas Aquinas College alumni, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).

The Eastern Oklahoma Catholic story reports on the progress of the monks’ ambitious, long-term building project, and also offers an insight into the leaven that these cloistered religious can be for the surrounding community:

“The balanced life of prayer and work provides an example to the modern person of how to praise God, respect His creation, to love one’s neighbor, and practice the reasonable use of material goods. While our vocation does not allow us the time to live as Benedictine monks, their piety reminds us of our own call to pray in our work and, when our work is finished, to take the time to pray.

“The ministry of Clear Creek is certainly a blessing to the Diocese of Tulsa. In just over a decade, they have had a formative influence on the faithful, providing a window into a world where men are engaged in a constant search after God.”

May God continue to bless Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey!